Well that was fun, eh?
The Winnipeg Jets prevailed by a 7-4 score over the Nashville Predators to take a 2-1 series lead in game three of the Western Conference semifinal series.
For those hockey fans expecting a low scoring, goalie dominated affair between two Vezina nominees and their teammates....this series has not been that.
Game three was another high scoring affair, with the ice seemingly sloped in one direction. The first eight goals all went into the same net, the one the Jets defend twice during regulation. Mr. Underwood (Mike Fisher, not Frank) opened the scoring with his first of the playoffs. A series of dumb penalties struck the Jets like turbulence, and Nashville doubled their lead via a P.K. Subban shot.
Unable to escape the first with even a two goal deficit, Austin Watson made it 3-0. Paul Maurice likely considered pulling him, but stuck with his starter.
I don’t know what happened in the intermission. Maybe Paul Maurice chewed them out. Maybe they found a bottle of Michael’s Special Stuff. But the Jets team in the second was an entirely different beast than the one in the first.
The first goal of the comeback was in and out so fast the ref staring right at it said “nope”, but upon further review Paul Stastny was awarded the goal after his leg deflected a Jacob Trouba shot. With the teams at 4-on-4, Winnipeg dominated the extra space and Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba scored 18 seconds apart to tie things up.
Blake Wheeler had a glorious chance to take the lead, which would be very important later*.
Would the Preds escape the period with just a tie? Nope. Big Buff struck again, one-timing a Wheeler feed to give the Jets the lead after two.
Nashville tied things up to restore the white hair inducing, nail biting atmosphere in and around Bell MTS Place.
The whistles started going Winnipeg’s way, and their power play took advantage. Blake Wheeler smacked in a Scheifele rebound, to give the Jets the lead. A frustrated Pekka Rinne took exception to some Adam Lowry poking, and found himself penalized which hurt the chances of a Nashville comeback attempt.
Peter Laviolette pulled his goalie, but Blake Wheeler scored from long distance to make it 6-4. Rinne was pulled again, and the sniper Brandon Tanev scored to make it 7-4 and ice this one.
- The Winnipeg Jets have to stay out of the penalty box. Or improve their penalty kill. Or both.
- I have to question why two similar disciplined teams have a great disparity in penalty calls in this series. Despite the whining of the Perds, they calls in game two and the first couple of periods of game three went Nashville’s way more often than not. Finally the refs found their whistles for the Subban and Rinne penalties, and low and behold it made a difference.
- I probably would have pulled Hellebuyck after the first period. But whatever message was given in the locker room delivered the same message, as the Jets came out firing in the second to take the lead after 40.
- I like Big Buffs, and I cannot lie. Dustin Byfuglien metaphorically (literally could be feasible with him) put the team on his back in the second period. The big defender now has 10 points in eight playoff games.
- *Blake Wheeler should have had a hat trick. But two goals will more than do.
- Connor Hellebuyck was 20 for 22 on even strength shots, but three for five when short handed as the penalty kill struggle, going two for four.
- I know CBC likes to make a lot about Patrik Laine not scoring this series, but it’s not like he’s been rubbish offensively. He has an assist in each game of the series, and has seven points in eight playoff games.
- Mark Scheifele quietly had a good game. Two assists, and 17 of 24 at the faceoff dot.
- I really enjoy the way Filip Forsberg plays hockey. Even with Washington winning tonight, they still must be kicking themselves over that trade.
- The Jets move to 3-0 when I write the recap in the playoffs. I won’t be around on Thursday. Will the Jets find a way to prevail? Will Nashville regain home ice advantage? Tune in next time. Same Jets time! Same Jets channel!